By Walton Golightly
In 1979, after their children had grown up and left home, Carl and Colleen Gordon moved to Las Vegas. In 1983, they invited their grandson, Dale Flanagan, 19, to live in a caravan on their property.
A self-confessed Satanist, and the ‘head dragon’ of his own coven, he was one strange dude. Soon, according to Colleen’s niece, her aunt was afraid to be alone with Dale and his ‘druggie friends’ on the property.
On November 6, 1984, Carl and Colleen were found murdered in their house. Intruders had broken in previous night. Colleen was dragged up to the bedroom, thrown onto the bed and shot twice through the head. Carl, clearly rushing to her rescue, was shot seven times.
Las Vegas police summoned Colleen’s sister and her family to the city. They showed them a picture of a knife found at the scene. Colleen’s niece recognised it as one she’d seen in Dale’s possession. Turned out, he was already at the top of the detectives’ suspects.
“The next morning we went to the home,” recalls Colleen’s niece in a blog post. Nothing had been cleaned up and police were still dusting for fingerprints. “What I saw leading down the staircase was unbelievable” – blood splatter, holes from shotgun blasts and a “pool of blood on the floor,” says the niece.
She and her brother peeked in the bedroom. Brain matter and blood covered the bed. “I never felt so much hate for Dale until that day,” she says.
By December 10, Flanagan was in custody, charged with murder. A week later, five of his friends were also answering questions – Michael Walsh and Johnny Luckett (both 17) and Thomas Akers, Roy McDowell and Randy Moore (all 18). They comprised Flanagan’s coven.
However, notes crime writer Brian Lane, it’s “surprising how a few weeks in custody facing murder charges in a state employing the death penalty will loosen even tongues bound by Satanic vows of silence.” Thomas Akers turned state’s evidence in exchange for a suspended sentence. Michael Walsh picked up four life sentences after pleading guilty to two charges of murder. The remain four pleaded not guilty.
At their trial, Johnny Luckett was given life without the possibility of parole and Roy McDowell received a life sentence. Randy Moore and Dale Flanagan, who had fired the fatal shot, were sentenced to death.
Flanagan had suggested murdering his grandparents a month before the killings. He hoped to inherit their estate and receive a hefty insurance pay out. Flanagan and Moore remain on death row.